Keys to victory: Buccaneers addition
There is no point sugar coating this because after what the team looked like last week all indications are that the Chargers will have an uphill battle this week. Usually any team that Bruce Ariens coaches and certainly any offense Tom Brady operates is very disciplined. The Chargers look to bounce back from a sloppy game in which they had 3 turnovers and yet again seem more banged up than the previous week. This might also be the last week that we get a glimpse of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert before Tyrod Taylor returns healthy. Uphill battle or not, no game is unwinnable and here are the things that must happen in order for this to happen.
This week the Chargers will be without the two offensive line upgrades the added in the offseason, Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga. This does not bode well because in my opinion the number one main key to the game is how well the Bolts offensive line can contain the defensive line of Tampa. With the injuries to the offensive line we are looking at seeing a Trey Pipkins VS Shaq Barrett all Sunday. Barrett who had 19.5 sacks last season will more than likely be a complete mismatch for Pipkins. The question is how consistent can Pipkins stay against Barrett? Barrett has 2 sacks and 3 tackles for a loss so far this season and those will likely be improved by weeks end as Pipkins looks like the only offensive lineman who hasn’t improved even a little under new offensive line coach James Capmen and according to his pro football focus grades struggles in all areas of blocking. Ryan Groy will be the fill in at right guard and last week struggled mightily in the pass blocking department as he only had a 25.0 pass protection. However interestingly enough he had a pass blocking grade of 88. Another injury which would have nothing to do with the offensive line is yet another free agent addition Chris Harris JR. While nobody was happy to see Harris go down the fact remains that the Chargers are in a fortunate position to have a guy like Desmond King be a fill in guy. It will be interesting to see how the pending free agent King will play especially considering he was very vocal about his displeasure with playing time early on.
Forrest Lamp vs Ndamukong Suh
Piggy backing off the offensive line topic, the left side which happens to be healthy this year will also have their hands full this week. Lamp who is an impending free agent has seen the most playing time of his career so far and will likely have the biggest test of his short experienced career so far. Suh who happens to be a future hall of famer isn’t quit what he used to be in the pass rushing department as he once was, but he is a very powerful individual. His overall defensive grade is only a 52.2 through 3 weeks. If Lamp can win this matchup consistently it could help to offset just how much of a field day the Tampa defensive line could have. Lamp has a 69 overall pass blocking grade thus far along with a 54.7 run blocking grade. This could be a big turning point in his confidence and potentially his career moving forward if he can excel in Sundays match up
Linebackers in coverage:
With Chris Godwin unavailable this week Tom Brady will look to his double tight end sets to take the edge off. Brady is also known for getting the ball out extremely fast. With Kyzir White at one of the outside linebacker spots he will likely be tasked with covering OJ howard. Kyzir has had a coverage grade of 60.7 so far through 3 weeks. Wjile Kyzir is undersized due to the fact he is a converted safety, he no doubt has the speed to handle the job. In my opinion for this particular match up I would like to see Bradley have Denzel Perryman start at middle linebacker and have Kenneth Murray slide over to the other outside linebacker spot and handle the task of covering Rob Gronkowski. While Murrays coverage grade hasn’t been very great with a 46.8, I find that stat interesting as he was heralded for his speed and coverage skills at Oklahoma. He is still young and again with no preseason rookies need to have a learning curve. They did however slide him out to the outside position halfway through the game against Carolina and at which point the run defense improved due to Denzel being able to play middle linebacker and Murrays speed on the outside essentially shuts down on side of the field in the flats. It will be interesting to see how he handles Rob Gronkowski.